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Iran – Reply given by Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs to questions in the National Assembly (November 26, 2013)

The minister : "Two weeks ago, I think, two of you asked me about the Iranian nuclear issue, at a time when we were unable to finalize the negotiations. In order to sum up France’s position I said, “We’re being firm, but we aren’t inflexible.”

An interim agreement has now been concluded. You’re asking me to explain it. There has been progress but at the same time, we must remain vigilant.

Why? The progress, as you recalled, relates to the commitment not to use or have the atomic bomb, which is key, stockpiles of uranium enriched to 20%, 5% enrichment, and to monitor the Arak reactor. All this was largely unknown to our fellow citizens a few weeks ago but is now understood by everyone.

But at the same time, we have to remain vigilant because this is only part of the issue. We must agree on the final form of the agreement, the IAEA must monitor all that and on the Iranian side there must be vigilance in order to be sure that the partial lifting of sanctions is being put into effect.

So at this stage, I would prefer not to make a final judgment. I would simply like to say that France’s attitude has always been the same – firmness and vigilance. That’s what’s in this interim agreement. We will continue in the same direction and I think I can say, having heard the reaction from all sides that you, almost unanimously – except perhaps for certain people, and they will express their views, – agree that in this instance France has worked to achieve peace"

The minister : "This is an interim agreement; we need to supplement it, strengthen it and we will of course, in the weeks and months to come, develop it and hopefully decide on it together.

At the beginning of your question, you said that we had received a slap in the face because there had been a secret negotiation. You know enough about diplomacy to know that the Americans told us – and there are no secrets between us at the leadership level – that they were talking with the Iranians. At the same time, we were having discussions with the 6+1. That seemed perfectly relevant and when the Americans and the Iranians came back with what was theoretically a solution, France said “that doesn’t suit us” because there were things that were missing and this firmness paid off.

Apart from this, I’ve seen, like you, the reactions from all sides and we have the greatest respect for these reactions. At the same time, we’re working to achieve the objective of peace and security. In these reactions – you mentioned Israel – Israel’s leaders called me and indicated to me that they couldn’t agree with what has been proposed. Iran’s Supreme Leader made comments about Israel again last week that were totally unacceptable but the Israelis added:

“We want to say that we are grateful to France for the firm position it has taken.” The same applies, in more positive terms, to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

We’re not working with any country in particular, even if we are friends with that country, we’re working – as I believe you must – for security and for peace."

Read more :

-  Iran nuclear talks in Geneva (26.11.13)


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